It's a 'super' cyclone

Published: Wednesday 09 October 2013


People wait for food, water, medical aid, and assistance to rebuild homes
Author: Ashis Senapati
It’s almost a month since Cyclone Phailin subsided and the government of Odisha patted itself for averting many deaths through timely warning and disaster preparedness. But the government has not been so prompt in providing relief and rehabilitation to those who survived the cyclone and the subsequent floods. Post-disaster monitoring is only just beginning in the worst-affected parts of Odisha.
Haiyan, which has claimed over 10,000 lives, is reportedly one of the strongest storms on record
Author: Vani Manocha
Typhoon Haiyan, which claimed over 10,000 lives in Philippines, reached Vietnam and China on Monday, according to news reports. The typhoon has crashed into Philippines on Friday morning and claimed many lives. Almost 600,000 people have been evacuated in Vietnam. An orange alert, the second-highest warning in its weather system, has been issued in China, according to media reports.
Cyclone Phailin has not taken many lives but has left behind a trail of destruction that severely cripples people’s livelihood. What did it take to save so many lives in the face of a potential killer? A Down To Earth analysis with a rider: should saving lives be the only mission of disaster preparedness?
Author: Alok Gupta, Ashis Senapati, Raghuram Puvvada, Jyotsna Singh, Richard Mahapatra
On the night of October 12, when cyclone Phailin crashed into Odisha, Basanti Jena of Boitalupatana village in Jajpur district relived the super cyclone of 1999 that had battered the state and killed about 10,000 people. The following morning, when she emerged from her house, she sighed with relief: no one in her village had died. Like Jena, the entire country had feared the worst. Phailin, with winds of more than 200 kilometres per hour, was the second fierce cyclone to hit India in 14 years. But it killed only a few–22 by the state government’s reckoning.
200 people in Ganjam get diarrhoea after drinking contaminated water
Author: Ashis Senapati
People trapped in cyclone- and flood-affected areas of Odisha are now facing another emergency-acute drinking water shortage.
Many villages near tourist sites in the state are dependent on tourism
Author: Ashis Senapati
Cyclone Phailin that hit Odisha on October 12 and the floods which followed have taken a heavy toll on tourism in the state which is already reeling under Maoist violence.
Residents of Praharajpur say the mangrove forest they nurtured contained damage to the coastal village
Author: Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava
As the Centre and the state governments of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh pat their backs for containing loss of lives during cyclone Phailin, a share of credit should also go to the people who had prepared their own safety nets against such calamities. While early warning and effective evacuation has definitely proved to be a game changer for the governments this time, the efforts of communities to protect mangroves at a few places in the coastal belt might also have played a major role in bringing down the damage.
The dead make a better story than the living. Failure of media to continue reporting Phailin will take the pressure off administration to provide relief and rehabilitation
Author: Amit Baruah
The feared deaths from cyclone Phailin didn’t happen due to both prediction and preparation, but the storm is still to abate for the millions of people now facing the brunt of floods in Odisha’s Balasore and Mayurbhanj districts.
The severe cyclone has crossed nine states since it landed in Gopalpur on October 12
As government assesses the devastation caused by severe cyclone Phailin in Odisha, it is still alive, though in a significantly weakened state. It is now in eastern Nepal. Since its landfall in Gopalpur on October 12 night, it has crossed over nine states and neighbouring Nepal where it will dissipate. Its trail of devastation is also as wide, though it varies in degree
People deny receiving any supply materials, aid
Author: Ashis Senapati
Around 1.6 million people from villages in cyclone-hit Odisha continue to battle the floods triggered by incessant rain that followed the cyclone. The rivers Budhabalanga, Bansadhara, Baitarani, Bramahani, Kani and Rushikulya are in spate and have brought more misery to homeless people. The districts reeling under flood are Kendrapada, Balesore, Bhadrak, Ganjam , Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj.
Improvements in weather forecasting and disaster preparedness, and lessons learnt from 1999, made all the difference
Author: Jyotsna Singh
For three to four days before cyclone Phailin hit Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, memories of the 1999 super cyclone made authorities and people fearful of what the cyclone would bring. The super cyclone devastated vast stretches of the state and so do did Phailin. But there is a big difference between what happened then and now–over 10,000 people were killed in Odisha in October 1999, while Phailin's toll was less than 30.
Families in severely affected villages to get rations and cash assistance
Author: Soma Basu
Cyclone Phailin that hit Odisha on Saturday did not claim many lives, but nonetheless crippled farmers across the state by damaging about 0.6 million hectares (ha) of agricultural land, of which 0.5 million hectares had ripe paddy.
Officials promise to restore power in a week, but it may take much longer
Author: Ashis Senapati
Phailin has left around 10,000 villages in the coastal districts of Odisha in the dark. About 200,000 people live in the cyclone-impacted districts–Ganjam, Puri, Kendrapada, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, Cuttack, Gajapati, Naragarh and Khordha.
Thousands of people are trapped in Balasore district, which is far from areas hit by cyclone
Author: Alok Gupta
After the cyclone, the National Disaster Management Authority and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel are battling floods. The situation is critical in Balasore district's Sindhia and Fariki villages in Remuna block. These areas are far from where cyclone Phailin made a landfall.
Cyclone Phailin leaves behind a trail of destruction; people complain they have received no relief supply
Author: Ashis Senapati
The death toll in Odisha, which was struck by cyclone Phailin on Saturday night, was contained to18 because of timely evacuation of people residing in seaside areas and disaster preparedness on part of government authorities. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik termed Phailin as “zero-loss of life” cyclone; the state government evacuated nearly 700,000 people from seaside villages to safer places.
People say it was lessons from 1999 super cyclone and media warnings that helped save lives during cyclone Phailin
Author: Alok Gupta
While government authorities patted themselves over the successful evacuation of people from seaside areas before cyclone Phailin struck and took credit for minimising loss of lives, affected residents say such claims are not entirely correct. They say it is lessons learnt from the 1999 super cyclone, media hype and a bit of government support that saved lives.
It will continue ravage the coastal districts till early morning; scale of devastation will be known by late Sunday morning
Author: Richard Mahapatra
Severe cyclonic storm Phailin struck Odisha coast at 9.15 pm at a speed of 210 km per hour. It made landfall at Gopalpur, a town already cut off from the state’s government communication channel. After a delay of about an hour, the India Meteorological Department made the announcement in Delhi. The cyclone is 250 km wide and has been carrying with it moisture sucked from an area half the size of India. It is the second worst cyclone to hit Odisha in 14 years.
Activists say water level in dam reservoir dangerously high even after letting out water through sluice gates
Author: Sudeep Kumar Guru
Super cyclone Phailin hits Odisha coast this evening. While it is likely to cause extensive damage, it may also put a question mark over water management of Hirakud dam. As heavy downpour is predicted in the upper catchments of the Mahanadi river in Chhatisagarh, it is testing time for the dam authority. Dam officials are, however, confident that the reservoir has sufficient space to store enough water in case there is heavy rain in the upper catchment of the Mahanadi river.
Some climate models predict two-to seven-fold increase in the frequency of Hurricane Katrina magnitude events for a 1°C rise in global temperature
Author: Vibha Varshney
The severity of cyclone Phailin has once again triggered speculations about whether it is linked to climate change. But the impact of climate change on intensity and frequency of cyclones is not understood well and so far not been proved conclusively. It has been observed that there is an increase in numbers and proportion of hurricanes of the category 4 and 5 globally since 1970 with a simultaneous decrease in the total number of cyclones and cyclone days.
Where India Met office differs from private forecasters
Author: Aparna Pallavi
Akshay Deoras, Nagpur-based severe weather forecaster from METD Weather, a private weather forecast firm, says that Phailin cyclone is category 5 on the Saffir Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which indicates storms with wind speeds exceeding 251 km per hour. “It is difficult to predict the exact wind speeds,” says he. “But a wind-speed of 260 km per hour can be expected at landfall (time when the eye of the cyclone reaches land) in Gopalpur and Behrampur in Odisha.
Storm winds moving at speed of over 200 km/hr head to districts that bore the brunt of 1999 super cyclone
Author: Ashis Senapati
Almost all the 468 seaside villages of Kendrapada, Jagatsinghpur, Puri, Ganjam and Khurdha in Odisha wore a deserted look on Saturday as cyclone Phailin approached the coast of Odisha. With wind speed steadily picking up and with incessant downpour, people’s worst fears may come true on Saturday evening, the expected time of Phailin’s landfall.
Experts in the West say Phailin is category 5 tropical cyclone, and may prove to be more devastating than even Hurricane Katrina
Author: Soma Basu
Both London-based Tropical Storm and the US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Centre have forecast winds reaching up to 315 km per hour on landfall, which would make Phailin a category 5 storm–the most powerful. India Meteorological Department has, however, were daying till Friday that the cyclone would not be so severe.
Forests that shielded seaside villages from earlier super cyclone have been chopped down for proposed steel plant
Author: Ashis Senapati
Panic gripped sea side villages of Nuagaon, Noliasahi, Polanga, Gadakujang and other villages on Friday near the Jatadhari river mouth at the proposed steel plant site of Posco in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha as cyclonic storm Phailin approached the state. Once the very mention of these villages conjured up images of virgin mangroves, cashew nut, betel vines, fruit bearing trees and casuarina forests. Today, those verdant visions are fading fast as the authorities have chopped thousands of trees for the construction of a steel plant of the South Korean steel company Posco.
As Odisha braces for super cyclone Phailin, a coastal village hopes the mangrove it nurtured will protect their homes
Author: Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava
As Odisha braces for a super cyclone that is likely to make a landfall on Saturday evening, thousands of villagers are being evacuated to shelter homes. Some of them are also leaving behind the mangrove forests which they believe have rescued them from cyclones and storms in the past.
Storm winds moving at speed of over 200 km/hr head to districts that bore the brunt of 1999 super cyclone
Author: T N Vijayalakshmi, Ashis Senapati
The deep depression that had formed over the Bay of Bengal has intensified into a super cyclone; it is moving towards the Odisha and Andhra coast at the speed of over 200 km per hour. The cyclonic storm is expected to make a landfall on Saturday evening. “The very severe cyclonic storm, Phailin over east-central Bay of Bengal remained stationery and lay centred at 8.30 hrs (IST) 2013 near latitude 16.00N and longitude 88.50E, about 520 km south-southeast of Paradip, 530km south-east of Gopalpur, and 530km east-southeast of Kalingapatnam,” the alert from India Meteorological Department (IMD) in the morning said. Later in the day, the cyclone was declared a super cyclone.
All two-storey government and NGO buildings, schools and colleges declared cyclone shelters
Author: Ashis Senapati
Thousands of people living in coastal villages of Kendrapada, Jagatsinghpur, Puri and Ganjam in Odisha started heading for safe areas on Friday as cyclone Phailin moved towards the state. The cyclonic storm Phailin over Bay of Bengal intensified and is all set to make a landfall close to Gopalpur in Odisha at a speed of at least 215km per hour.
26 of the 35 deadliest tropical cyclones in world history have been Bay of Bengal storms
Author: Soma Basu
A satellite-based measure of Phailin’s (pronounced 'pie-reen', not 'pie-leen', the Thai word for sapphire) strength is estimated as the storm’s central pressure at 910.7 millibars, with sustained winds of 175 mph (280 kmph). If those numbers were verified by official forecast agencies, they would place Phailin at par with 2005's Hurricane Katrina, and break the record for the most intense cyclone in Indian Ocean's recorded history, says weather historian Christopher Burt.
M R Ramesh Kumar from National Institute of Oceanography on Phailin and the cyclone vulnerability of Bay of Bengal
Author: Soma Basu
Tropical cyclones are among the most destructive natural disasters of the world. About seven per cent of the global tropical cyclones take form in the north parts of the Indian Ocean. Cyclone Phailin, now declared a super cyclone of size matching Hurricane Katrina, may prove to be as devastating as the 1999 super cyclone of Odisha in which thousands lost their lives. M R Ramesh Kumar, chief scientist and coordinator of Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research of physical oceanography division, National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, spoke to Soma Basu about Phailin and the cyclone vulnerability of Bay of Bengal. Edited excerpts:
Select articles, studies and documents that throw light on super cyclone of 1999 and what makes Odisha so disaster-prone


Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.